July 23, 2012
I saw this morning through Michael Hickins' succinct and savory CIO Journal Morning Download that Google acquired Paris-based email experience aggregator Sparrow. Sparrow's software runs on iPhone and Mac to aggregate your different email accounts into a single experience. I haven't used the app, so I can't vouch for it. But I do think this acquisition signals Google's growing understanding of the importance of mobile engagement and the role of the app Internet technology architecture in delivering an engaging experience.
Quick level set. We all get mobile. But we haven't all yet grokked the fact that mobile engagement changes the way we design business services to serve customers in their every moment. Instead, we tend to treat mobile as small Web or as an adjunct channel. It's not. Mobile is or will be the most important channel for direct service engagement. We call that mobile engagement — empowering people to take the next most likely action in their moments of need. Mobile engagement will have vast repercussions on service design, app design, experience design, even business design. (Taxi service Uber couldn't exist without the app Internet and mobile engagement.)
Three quick comments on Google's mobile engagement trajectory for mobile collaboration:
- Google's acquisition of QuickOffice and now Sparrow indicates that it will invest in apps and mobile engagement. That's a good thing. But Gmail Web on the iPhone is still awful.
- If Google doesn't invest in mobile engagement, then some savvier startup will disintermediate Google out of the mobile experience, and Google will lose out. If Google's email is buried inside Sparrow's app, then will you remember that Google provides it?
- Mobile engagement must become a Google core value in order for it to overcome the problems of the mobile Web. I won't speak here about Google's problem with mobile ads, but my colleagues Melissa Parrish and Shar VanBoskirk will. But for mobile collaboration, Web alone won't do. It needs apps. So Google done good buying a company like Sparrow. Now let's hope it brings it back to market fast and furious (and with Android and Windows Phone support).